We learned a lot about Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty today, and I’m excited about it. Let’s dive into what we know about the set so far!
Old meets new with swords, armor, mechs and other technology. There’s plenty of exciting Equipment featuring the new reconfigure mechanic (more on this to come). There’s also an evil presence on Kamigawa involving the Phyrexians and Tezzeret. Artifacts appear to be a central theme of blue and red.
Tezzeret, Betrayer of Flesh probably won’t see much play outside of artifact decks, but with proper support, he seems outrageously powerful.
At face value, he’s comparable to many of Jace’s incarnations, with a first ability (a mini Thirst for Knowledge) that potentially offers both card selection and card advantage. A key difference is that we’ve come to expect these abilities to come with a neutral or negative loyalty cost, while Tezzeret can accumulate card advantage and loyalty with each passing turn. Going up to five loyalty right away makes him healthy and hard to kill.
His passive ability is quite nice, and can allow you to bury your opponent by taking multiple powerful actions each turn. I haven’t figured out the best way to take advantage of it yet, but it can clearly reduce equip and reconfigure costs, while older formats offer synergies with cards like Grim Monolith, Walking Ballista and much more.
Tezzeret’s -2 can be used defensively or offensively, permanently turning your weakest artifact into a big threat. If you have a high-crew-cost Vehicle, you can also use this ability to turn it forever into its creature form.
In a dedicated artifact deck, the ultimate (which can be reached quite quickly, by the way), should easily accumulate enough value to bury the opponent.
Sagas & Other Enchantments
Where blue and red have artifacts, white and green have enchantments. This includes enchantment creatures, which originated in Theros.
Sagas are a fun and engaging card type, and they’re back in Kamigawa. Notably, these Sagas transform into creatures at chapter three.
Ninjutsu is back. This is a fascinating mechanic because it requires balancing cheap, evasive creatures with payoff cards for when your creatures go unblocked. Plus, you’ll want backup plans so that you don’t fold in games where you fail to land your ideal start.
Silver-Fur Master is a nice middleground because it can be cast outright for a very affordable rate, then helps to unload more ninjas from your hand on the cheap.
It’s easy to misread Silver-Fur Master as pumping Ninjas and Rats, but it actually pumps Ninjas and Rogues. That alone makes it an interesting pairing with Bitterblossom in Modern.
Channel was a somewhat forgettable mechanic the first time around (indicated by the fact that I myself forgot about it). It allows you to discard a card from your hand for an alternative effect. It’s kind of like an alternative take on split cards, except that using the channel ability isn’t actually casting a spell, and therefore can’t be countered by traditional means.
If Channel was forgettable last time we visited Kamigawa, I promise it won’t be this time. Boseiju is an incredible card.
As a starting point, we have Forest. Plain, reliable, untapped green mana with no questions asked – that’s a pretty good place to be. The channel ability offers some insurance against drawing multiple copies of a legendary land, and can definitely get you out of some sticky situations by taking out your opponent’s key cards. In particular, I envision destroying Equipment and Auras during combat, or taking out something that’s been animated by Tezzeret’s -2 ability.
Notably, Boseiju allows the opponent to search for dual lands like Blood Crypt, Indatha Triome or Volcanic Island. This makes it impractical to “run the opponent out of lands” like you sometimes could with Assassin’s Trophy or Ghost Quarter. On the other hand, it does combo extremely well with Leonin Arbiter and Aven Mindcensor.
Reconfigure gives us cards that can be either creatures or Equipment. When you cast a card with reconfigure, it enters the battlefield as an artifact creature. Later, you can choose to equip (reconfigure) it to another creature. That creature will effectively gain the stats and abilities of the reconfigure card, in addition to what it already had.
This is a huge boon for creature decks. A previous fail case of playing with Equipment is that your creatures would die and you’d have these useless paper weights lying around, contributing nothing. Since these cards can be creatures themselves, there’s less downside, and more flexibility to take the game in the direction you want it to go.
I’ll add an interesting tidbit from Matt Tabak’s Kamigawa Mechanics article.
“Remember that tapping a creature (say, to attack with it) doesn’t cause any Equipment attached to it to become tapped. This means unattaching an Equipment after combat will result in an untapped artifact creature, ready to block (provided the Equipment was untapped to begin with).”
Modified refers to creatures which are equipped, enchanted or have a counter on them.
While each card that references modified creatures is a bit different, it seems that it will be limited to creatures you control enchanted by Auras you control, which will remove a lot of possible confusion.
On the other hand, all counters result in creatures being modified. This includes +1/+1 counters, -1/-1 counters and ability counters like menace (which originate in Ikoria, and are back in Kamigawa).
It seems that Tamiyo has been corrupted by the Phyrexians. It’s unclear if there will be other cards with the compleated mechanic, but Tamiyo has a Phyrexian mana symbol in her mana cost. She can be cast for five mana, or for four mana and two life, but if you choose to pay the life, she enters the battlefield with two less loyalty.
This is a powerful option, since Tamiyo’s +1 ability is remarkably effective at protecting herself and neutralizing threats, particularly if she comes down early enough in the game.
The next two abilities are where the reduction of loyalty hurts a bit more. However, at five loyalty, it’s realistic that you could cast Tamiyo, remove four loyalty, and generate a copy of another planeswalker from your graveyard. This was something I loved about Nicol Bolas, the Arisen, since adding two planeswalkers to the battlefield is an incredible swing that the opponent will have a hard time coming back from.
Finally, Tamiyo can ramp seamlessly towards a powerful ultimate. Tamiyo’s Notebook is a impressive permanent that offers you tremendous long-term advantage. The only downside is that, unlike an emblem, the Notebook can be destroyed. So proceed with caution.
The Wandering Emperor finally answers the question of who The Wanderer was back in War of the Spark. This card is exceptionally powerful, and will redefine what it means to have four mana available during a tricky combat step.
Not only does The Wandering Emperor have flash, she can also be activated at instant-speed on the turn you cast her. Here are a few examples:
- You attack, your opponent blocks, you flash in your planeswalker, and give your creature +1/+1 and first strike.
- Your opponent attacks, you block, flash in your planeswalker to pump your creature and win the combat step.
- Your opponent attacks, you flash in your planeswalker and exile the attacking creature.
- Your opponent attacks, you let them play out their whole turn, and during their end step you flash in The Wandering Emperor to take out their creature. Then you untap and start dominating the game.
- The board is empty, so the opponent thinks they can count on their own planeswalker surviving. At the end of the turn, you flash in The Wandering Emperor, make a token. Then you untap, give it +1/+1, and attack their planeswalker.
In all of these cases, there are two big things to note. First, since your opponent has already declared their attackers, they won’t be able to threaten The Wandering Emperor in combat. Second, you get to flash in your planeswalker, activate her, then untap and activate her again. This is a huge swing, and gives you a lot of flexibility to take the game in the direction you want it to go.
We’re still early in Kamigawa preview season. My teammates and I are planning a ton of awesome Kamigawa-related content for you over the next three weeks. So please stay tuned!